Posts Tagged 'Police'



What Happens to Disgraced Cops?

Last week, Seattle Weekly looked at what happens to cops who run afoul of the law in the wake of the case of Seattle police officer Ian Birk. Birk shot and killed a homeless Native American woodcarver in August, and though he resigned under great pressure, he faces no criminal charges.

In the article there is a brief mention of Albuquerque police officer Daniel Guzman, who attacked a local NBC news photographer in 2008 because he didn’t sufficiently respect his authority. As we posted, Guzman was spectacularly unhinged, and the police department said it would review the way its department handles the media as a result.

Well, ever wonder what happens to a loose cannon cop?

Not all the shamed officers wind up ulcer-ridden and jobless. Daniel Guzman, a former officer with the Albuquerque Police Department, lost his job after he attacked a television news photographer who pissed him off.

He ended up, however, getting a new job with the Bernalillo Police Department after they decided he “deserved a second chance.” [ED NOTE: The above link requires registration, but you can read the story here.]

You can read about other officers who abused their authority and ended up with good jobs and no worse for the wear. It reminds me of the Catholic Church’s response to bad priests: just reassign them to a new parish. And we all know how well that’s turned out.

Source: Seattle Weekly

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IL Takes Several Steps Back, Won’t Protect Recording Police

People in Illinois are looking at fifteen years if they audio-record police activity. Or should I say “still looking”? Because the Illinois Eavesdropping Act makes recording someone in public without their consent a felony. Last year the ACLU filed a lawsuit challenging the law, but a few weeks ago Federal Judge Suzanne Conlon dismissed it, saying there is no First Amendment protections there.  

Although law-enforcement officials can legally record civilians in private or public, audio-recording a law-enforcement officer, state’s attorney, assistant state’s attorney, attorney general, assistant attorney general or judge in the performance of his or her duties is a Class 1 felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

As Reason magazine’s Radley Balko writes, unfortunately, “the law is used almost exclusively against people who attempt to record on-duty police officers.”

While absurd, this makes some sort of sense because allowing citizens to record police activity would likely cause all kinds of grief for that very jackbooted state that is known to be very corrupt.

Source: New York Times

New Haven Asst. Police Chief Arrests Man for iPhone Video

A fish rots from the head down. Especially in the New Haven (CT) police department. That’s where Assistant Chief Ariel Melendez ordered the arrest of Luis Luna for filming an altercation with his iPhone one early morning in September. Luna, 26, says police took his iPhone, erased the video he took of officers breaking up a fight outside a bar, and then charged him with interfering with police. He spent the night in jail.

Assistant Chief Melendez noticed Luna and approached him “in a very intimidating manner,” Luna recalled. He asked what Luna was doing.

“I said, ‘Filming,’” Luna recalled. “He grabbed my phone and walked away.”

Melendez ordered officer Kristen Fitzgerald to arrest Luna for interfering.

“I just could not believe it,” Luna said.

Apparently this isn’t the first time police in New Haven have been caught harassing and even confiscating camera phones in the recent past. But still, Police Chief Frank Limon claims that he knows filming police is not illegal.

Assistant Chief Melendez didn’t get the memo though, despite 31 years on the force. He doesn’t mind using jackbooted tactics to enforce nonexistent laws. Know why? Because he knows he’ll get away with it.

Source: New Haven Independent

Surprisingly, NY Perps Sport Yankees Caps


Source: NYPD

Calling it a “curious phenomenon,” the New York Times is reporting that “dozens of men and women who have robbed, beaten, stabbed and shot at their fellow New Yorkers have done so while wearing Yankees caps or clothing.”

(This is sort of like when the Times tries to make a trend story out of three people they find feeling one way or doing a particular activity — like women who embrace their A-cup status.)

It’s a big joke. What do they expect from people in New York … green Celtics caps? I’m sure they’re wearing Yankees or Mets t-shirts, too, because guess what? People usually wear their hometown sports team gear.

I wonder if the NYPD will start unlawfully harassing Yankees cap wearers just like they do with photographers….

Article from New York Times

LAPD Sergeant Fires Away on YouTube

While YouTube is great fun for silly cat videos and clips of kids freaking out after the dentist, it’s also fertile ground for angry, arrogant, illiterate people. Exhibit A:

“your a dick ? what would u wanna video/pictures? a dead guy.. what the fuck are you gona do with the video of a dead guy.. get a life you fuking cunt,”

Interestingly, the comment was left by AbawiTariq, a sergeant with the LAPD, according to his YouTube profile.

Nothing but the best in Los Angeles. Seriously, Chief Beck – that is who you want representing your force?


More Bay Area Police Wearing Cameras

Calling it an “unstoppable” trend, the San Francisco Chronicle is reporting that police in the Bay Area have jumped on board the wearable camera wagon. (We’ve posted on Vievus before – they’re devices you can clip to your bag or shirt to capture your perspective for four hours.) Law enforcement have come to see the devices as protection — a way they can “show their side” in a “YouTube society,” as Officer Ronnie Lopez of the San Jose Police Department put it.

I agree. Ain’t nothing wrong with both sides having video evidence of what went down during an incident.

There are considerations though. On the suspect’s (or “person of interest”) side, can the police be trusted not to delete or alter footage? And on the officers’ side, will the use of video inhibit them or make them apprehensive about using force even when it’s necessary? (See Seattle cop punching jaywalker and all the uproar that provoked.)

As Brentwood (CA) Officer George Aguirre said:

“I’d rather you see what I did than hear accusations,” said Aguirre, who does traffic enforcement on a motorcycle and commercial vehicle enforcement in a truck. “When you do everything you’re supposed to do and someone challenges you, there’s nothing better than being able to show the video to them or my supervisors.”

Article from San Francisco Chronicle

MSM Backs Photographers’ Rights

Photographer Jerome Vorus’ July 3rd encounter with DC police on a Georgetown street has gotten a lot of traction in the media, with reports on WashingtonPost.com, NBC Washington, Reason magazine’s blogWe Love DC and DCist, among others. It surprised me because, if you follow these things, it was a pretty run of the mill event. Maddening, ridiculous,probably  illegal, yes — but pretty standard.

But for some reason the media really jumped on it. And the more mainstream outlets that highlight the absurdity of this harassment, the more likely police departments will review their policies and educate their officers.

On a related note, in an editorial yesterday, USA Today came out in support of the rights of citizens to film police activity. (Be sure to also read the counter point from the police union. Overall, I just don’t buy the “these videos must be viewed in context in order to be understood” argument. I think the Oscar Grant killing, the Times Square cyclist attacks and the UMD beatings, to name a few recent ones, all stand on their own.)


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